It’s full circle here today at Screenwriting from Iowa. Tonight I’m going to hear Bob Dylan live for the first time. Talk abut a slow training coming. But before I remember being drawn to Dylan’s music there was another up and coming fellow named Jimmy Buffett in the mid-70s that captured the attention of this 15-year-old growing up in Florida.
Only last night did I realize there really was a connection between Dylan and Buffett. The following exchange is from an interview of Dylan by Bill Flanagan, Bob Dylan Exclusive Interview: Reveals His Favorites Songwriters.
BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
BD: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.
BF: What songs do you like of Buffett’s?
BD: “Death of an Unpopular Poet.” There’s another one called “He Went to Paris.”
Buffett who is a five years younger than Dylan would have been in college (Auburn and Southern Mississippi) and just developing his own music styles when Dylan was having a major influence in the 60s. At that time, while Buffett was playing little dives in Hattiesburg, Mobile, Biloxi and New Orleans he was known to play Dylan’s songs like, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice it’s All Right (Number 9).” I’m sure he played a few off Dylan’s album Highway 61 Revisited.
Dylan recorded Blonde on Blonde in Nashville in 1966 when nobody outside of Nashville recorded there. Many make the connection between Dylan recording there with having a profound impact on the writing of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. A few years later Buffett would land in Nashville for a spell trying to launch his musical career.
Dylan and Buffett were not only both under the influence of the bluesmen from the Mississippi Delta but by country legend Hank Williams from Mobile, Alabama. (Which happens to be Buffett’s hometown.) In D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary Bob Dylan Don’t Look Back, Dylan breaks into a Hank Williams song and on Buffett’s Licence to Chill album he sings Williams’ classic Hey, Good Lookin.’
So while Dylan’s life started at the northern end of Highway 61 in northern Minnesota, Buffett was cutting his teeth at the southern end of the long highway 61 in New Orleans. Another road worth mentioning is State Road A1A in Florida which runs along the Atlantic Coast from Callahan, FL all the way down to Key West. Jimmy Buffett territory. A-1-A also happens to be a 1974 Jimmy Buffett album that is considered one of his most highly regarded.
There is a song on the A-1-A album called A Pirate Looks at Forty that Dylan and Joan Baez covered at the Pasadena Peace Sunday back in 1982. So while technically Highway Highway 61 & A1A never cross in real life they do in the world of storytellers.
I know Dylan has 500 of his own songs but if he performs a Buffett song tonight I will know that at least for a few moments that all is right in the world.